26 April 2009

Road trip to N'awlins

So I'm off to the Gulf Coast for a few days. I'll be hanging out at Jazz Fest and proving that vegetarians can, in fact, eat Creole cuisine. I'll update when I return (if not sooner).

25 April 2009

Cornerstone Deli

The Cornerstone Deli and Cafe in Clintonville is a restaurant masquerading as a chimera. Bagels are Cornerstone's bread and butter; however, it also features a salad bar and sushi. Despite the somewhat disparate offerings on the menu, the place has tons of options for vegetarians.

The bagels are big and soft, and they serve as the base for a number of vegetarian sandwiches. Choices of bagels include plain bagels, eight grain bagels, salt bagels, Asiago bagels, honey wheat bagels, sun-dried tomato bagels and three cheese bagels. They can also be ordered to-go with cream cheese.

Veggie sandwiches include the Veggie Delight, the Portabella melt, the Mediterranean veggie, the herbivore wrap, and a couple of pizza bagels. I sampled the Mediterranean veggie on an eight grain bagel. The sandwich consisted of mixed greens, sunflower seeds, sprouts, tomato and hummus on a steamed bagel. The flavor of the hummus was very herbaceous, and the seeds provided a great textural addition.

Sandwiches are available with chips and other sides, including potato salad, macaroni salad, build-your-own side salad, edamame and miso soup.

I didn't get a chance to try the sushi, but there are many vegetarian options. There is a marinated tofu and cucumber roll, an avocado and cucumber roll, a mixed vegetable roll, a vegetable dragon roll and a mixed vegetable sushi platter. There are also vegetarian rice bowl dishes on the menu.

Cornerstone Deli is set up like Panera Bread. You order at the counter, and a few minutes later the order is ready. There is seating for about 30 inside the restaurant. The interior of the restaurant screams greasy spoon--it's somewhat dingy looking. Some people might prefer eating off premises.

Corner Stone Deli
Cornerstone Deli & Cafe on Urbanspoon

19 April 2009

Tasi Cafe

I seem to be behind the curve on a few places in Columbus, and Tasi Café continues the pattern. Probably every newspaper, magazine, television show, radio program, blog and Web site has reviewed the place before I have.

What can I add to this ongoing discussion? Oh yeah...I'll cover the vegetarian dining experience at Tasi.

The menu at Tasi is essentially breakfast items, baked goods, sandwiches and comfort-food side dishes. It is owned and operated by Tasi Rigsby and her husband Kent. The pair also work at Rigsby's Kitchen and Flatiron Grill. Tasi Café is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and it is open for dinner every day but Sunday.

There are many breakfast items at Tasi Café for ovo-vegetarians. I'm more lacto than ovo, so I opted for a sandwich with a side of fries with parmesan and pepper flakes. The fries are really tasty. The pepper adds a hint of spiciness, and the parmesan peeks through in subtle bursts.

There are two vegetarian sandwiches on the menu. The bread for the sandwiches and side orders is baked by Eleni-Christina Bakery, owned and operated by none other than Kent and Tasi Rigsby. Sandwiches also come with a side of house made potato chips. The sandwich I did not try was the grilled aged cheddar and tomato sandwich on sourdough panini bread.

The sandwich I ordered was filled with chevre, roasted red peppers, arugala and pine nuts in a shell of starchy, multigrain panini bread goodness. This particular chevre is a mild, creamy goat cheese. It's tanginess pairs nicely with the peppers, and the pine nuts give the sandwich a delicious crunch.

The prices at Tasi are very fair. The meatless sandwiches are both less than $8, and the plate of French fries adds $3 to the tab. Service is fast casual, and seating is cafeteria-style.

Tasi Cafe

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18 April 2009

The Face on Your Plate

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson was interviewed by Salon, and the discussion involved the ethical quandaries related to eating meat and other animal products. Essentially, Masson believes that even humanely-raised livestock do not live a happy life. Masson believes that animals have feelings, and he thinks that the most responsible choice on an ethical, environmental and physiological level is to observe a vegan diet. Masson addresses these issues and more in his book "The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food."

Although his approach is somewhat extreme, Masson brings up some great points about the thought processes that people use to justify their omnivorous existence. Whether you agree with Masson or not, he thinks outside the box enough to create an interesting and informed opinion.

Read more

15 April 2009

More veggie weiner news

Weiners are back in the news. The Dispatch food section profiled just how far the hot dog has come from its infancy covered in mustard and relish, to today, where the comfort food has morphed into incarnations that are topped by any topping or condiment your creative little mind can conjure. Some of the places profiled are also vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. Rad Dawg features nothing but vegan hot dogs. When Dirty Frank's finally opens (a process like the Minnesota Senate race that seems to drag on endlessly), they promise to feature vegetarian hot dogs. Extreme Weiners also has veggie dogs. It's looking official: hot dogs, including the vegetarian variety, may be this year's sliders.

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13 April 2009

Luce Enoteca

Despite my abhorrence of driving to Powell, I had to check out the latest and greatest updates to Luce Enoteca from Chef and owner Alex Rodriguez (not the one who dated Madonna and tested positive for steroids in 2003; rather the one who opened the Rossi and the BoMA restaurant in Columbus).

Luce has been open for many years. Rodriguez kept the small plates concept, the fun wines by the glass and the cool ambiance while improving upon a few of the Italian classics on the menu.

There are many vegetarian small plates and salads available. The tomato bisque, the Luce salad, the Mediterranean salad, the beet and pear salad, the cheese plate, the olive plate and the roasted tomato and mozzarella napoleon are all meatless starters. There are also vegetarian sandwiches and pizzas on the menus, as well as a vegetarian special on the dinner menu. The thick, crusty bread is served with olive oil and mashed red peppers.

The daily special was cream of wild mushroom soup, which was also vegetarian-approved. The rich cream had layers of mushroom flavor that were absolutely divine.

The beet and pear salad was also a treat. The pears were poached in riesling with a hint of saffron. The beets and the crumbled goat cheese provide a tart foil to the fruit's sweetness. The greens and the dressing bind the flavors together. The dish looked as good as it tasted.

The eggplant parmesan is as good as I have ever tasted. The eggplant is cooked until it is melt-in-your-mouth tender. It is breaded and stuffed with melted mozzarella cheese, covered in a bright pomodoro sauce flaked with basil.

Wines are served by the bottle, by the glass and in flights. Some cool by the glass options include Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Ferrari Carano Chardonnay, Rocche Roccado Nebbiolo (bottled for Luce only), Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti, Benton Lane Pinot Noir, Altos Malbec, and the Norman Monster Zin. Bottle choices include a broad swath of Italian wines in addition to other choices from both the Old and New World. The beer selection is amazing, and the cocktail list also looks interesting.

The staff offers prompt, knowledgeable service. They did an excellent job of addressing my vegetarian concerns. The bar area is complete with a fireplace and stands in contrast to the more formal main dining area. The bar would be more fun if you didn't have to make the horrible drive out of Powell afterward. The locals must eat it up.


Luce Enoteca on Urbanspoon

11 April 2009

Sandwich Stop

I was crushed by the recent news that Deli in the Alley was closed. It was always a trusty spot with tons of sandwiches available for the vegetarian-inclined diner. When I read about Sandwich Stop, the new place taking the place of the Deli in the Alley, I had to see how it measured up to its predecessor.

Sandwich Stop is less of a deli and more of a burger joint. The new menu has more breakfast items and a wider dessert selection than Deli in the Alley did.

The decorations have been stripped, and the interior looks more Spartan than Deli in the Alley (although I'm sure the decor will progress as new proprietors John Mason and Lorenzo Lovejoy stretch their legs). The counter set-up and the tables are the same as before.

Unlike Deli in the Alley, the Sandwich Stop features only one vegetarian sandwich: the veggie burger. The burger is baked (saving squeamish vegetarians from having their veggie patty grilled next to a spattering mound of animal flesh). It is served with a choice of veggies, cheeses and condiments, as well as a choice of side dishes that includes potato salad, potato chips and cole slaw.

Although the veggie burger was fairly good, I might like to see one more vegetarian sandwich on the menu. I'll recommend a veggie wrap or something of that nature. It would provide a greater array of options for the karma-conscious diner.

The Sandwich Stop is open six days per week. It is closed Sunday, and like most Downtown establishments, the Sandwich Stop closes early.

Sandwich Stop

09 April 2009

Beer Wars

Hopheads take notice...Beer Wars, a documentary film, presents a snapshot of the important issues and obstacles facing the craft brewing industry. This is followed by a live discussion with beer cognoscenti moderated by the seriously funny Ben Stein. The one-night event is April 16, and it is showing in a few locations in Columbus. The Web site describes the evening as follows:

Fathom and Ducks In A Row Entertainment present Beer Wars LIVE with Ben Stein, a one night event taking you inside the boardrooms and back rooms of the American beer industry. The event will feature the exclusive never-before-seen documentary Beer Wars, followed by a riveting live discussion led by Ben Stein with America’s leading independent brewers and experts.

Playing in movie theaters nationwide on Thursday, April 16th at 8pm ET / 7pm CT / 6pm MT / 8pm PT (tape delay), beer industry insiders will take you behind-the-scenes of their quest for the American Dream. Don’t miss out on this entertaining journey that will reveal the truth behind the label of your favorite beer!

Limited seats available! Buy your tickets today.

Mana Food Bar

I saw an article yesterday about a new vegetarian small plates place in the Windy City. Mana Food Bar features hot and cold tapas and noodle dishes in large and small sizes alongside a few select side dishes. The entire menu is vegetarian, and the menu eschews tofu for the most part (although it is available as an add-on for those who prefer their protein in soy form).

Some tempting offerings on the menu include Thai pineapple salad with cucumbers, spicy green chili, mint and lime, green tea soba noodles in a shitake ginger broth with shredded vegetables, and a mushroom saute over soft polenta. I see a field trip planned for my next sojourn in the City of Big Shoulders.

07 April 2009

Dewey's Pizza

Grandview is the landing place for Cincinnati uber-pizza chain Dewey's. Dewey's slogan says that they take pizza to the next level. While this might be a bit of an overstatement, Dewey's pizza features non-traditional toppings piled on California-style pies, and the results are as flavorful as they are interesting.

Dewey's specialty pizzas are very vegetarian-friendly. Choices include the Green Lantern (red sauce, mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, garlic, mushrooms and pesto), the Killer Veggie (red sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, onions, black olives, green peppers, tomatoes and parsley), the Caprice (olive oil, garlic, mozzarella and Fontina cheese, basil and tomatoes), the Billy Goat (olive oil, garlic, mozzarella, goat cheese, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and green peppers), the Edgar Allan Poe (olive oil, mozzarella, Fontina and goat cheese, garlic, mushrooms, kalamata olives, fresh parsley and tomatoes) and Socrates' Revenge (olive oil, garlic, mozzarella, feta cheese, spinach, black olives, green olives red onion and tomatoes).

Dewey's menu also offers a few gourmet salads and three-topping calzones. The array of toppings for the pizzas and calzones go from basic (kalamata olives, green peppers, banana peppers) to slightly more adventurous (BBQ sauce, capers, artichokes) to off-the-wall (smoked cheddar, gorgonzola, black bean corn salsa).

I tried the wild mushroom pizza. The pizza crust is medium thick, somewhat chewy and cut into slices. It is somewhere between thin crust and deep dish in thickness. The sauce was an olive oil and garlic base. The toppings were lots of mushrooms (portobello, oyster and shitake), roasted red peppers and capers atop mozzarella and Fontina cheese. The capers and red peppers add a sweetness to the earthy mushrooms. I love real mushrooms, and this pizza features them in spades. I'll have to try something with the red sauce next time.

The interior is modern. There is a bar with a good selection of microbrews that is lined with flat-screen televisions. The staff is friendly. The kitchen is visible through a window in the dining room, where you can watch your pizza being made by hand.

Dewey's is a welcome addition to the Columbus pizza landscape. It's closest competition in the area is Z Pizza in the Short North and the Mellow Mushroom in Polaris. Dewey's was declared the winner of the Columbus Underground Pizza Grand Prix III, so it seems like somebody else in the area thinks Dewey's belongs.

Dewey's Pizza

Dewey's Pizza on Urbanspoon

04 April 2009

The Breathtaking Effects Of Cutting Back On Meat

by Kathy Freston

From the Huffington Post...

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

  • 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

  • 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

  • 70 million gallons of gas--enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

  • 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

  • 33 tons of antibiotics.

Everybody gets upset when somebody raises this point. They are afraid that somebody is going to take their steak away from them.

This isn't the case at all. Anybody can argue the validity of the statistics, or the health benefits of vegetarianism, or any other nit-picky thing that they can come up with.

Unfortunately, the point of arguments like this isn't to convert everybody to this dark religion known as vegetarianism. Rather, the idea is that when you consider the impact that the food you eat has on the world around you, you begin to make more careful decisions about what food you put on your table and in your mouth.

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02 April 2009

Latest trip to Athens

I have finally jumped through all of the graduate school hoops at Ohio University, and after turning in my final final final thesis draft, I ambled around Athens eating and drinking everything in site in celebration of completion.

My lunch was a veggie Mama grande burrito from Big Mama's Burritos. Big Mama's is a West Coast-style burrito outpost owned by Ohio University grad Quinn Schaller. The flagship veggie burrito can be made with a selection of toppings. I chose black beans, hot salsa, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, tomato and onions. Burritos are available large and small. Unless you possess a prodigious appetite like I do, a grande burrito is a filling lunch.

I also walked past Killer Tomato, Schaller's new salad bar/pasta concept. This menu looks very vegetarian-friendly. First, if a vegan or vegetarian can't eat at a salad bar, they probably need to reconsider their dietary choices. Second, the pasta dishes are also vegetarian optional, so Killer Tomato looks like an interesting herbivorous safe haven, much like Big Mama's.

A-Town Pies and Fries is another newcomer to the Court Street landscape. Parked across the way from the famous Burrito Buggy, A-Town sells New York-style pizza and thick-cut French fries. The French fries are labeled vegan, which I'm guessing means that they aren't fried in the same oil as chicken. The pizza is decent but hardly spectacular, and it might have trouble competing with Goodfellas pizza-by-the-slice (which is slightly cheaper pizza) or Avalanche (which is immeasurably better pizza). Only time will tell (The Post article linked earlier in the paragraph also discusses the differences in charges for buggies on different sides of Union Street, which is actually pretty interesting).

Back on the subject of Avalanche Pizza, I needed to stop by my favorite Athens pizza place while I was in town. Owner John Gutenkast is currently in Italy to compete in the World Pizza Championships in Italy according to a Columbus Dispatch article. Since Gutenkast might be out of town (and because I promised to order a sandwich in a previous post), I decided to order the veggie boulder sandwich. This sandwich is about half the size of your head, constructed on three layers of thick bread with onions, peppers, black olives, banana peppers, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, melted cheese and pesto sauce. This sandwich is a full meal for $6.49.

I also stopped in Jackie O's, Athens' brew pub, to check the taps. Jackie O's expanded its offerings of drafts from other breweries to supplement the brew pub beers. The barrel-aged honey ale slumbered in Woodford Reserve bourbon casks. The flavor starts off with a flowery, malty and molasses-driven sweetness that is tempered by a robust smokiness and a bracing hoppy bitterness that peaks out through the layers of flavor. The color is deep brown and the carbonation dissipates quickly. With 12% alcohol, this is a sipper and not a chugger. Jackie O's makes great beers, and if you get a chance to enjoy their menu (which includes many vegetarian options and a green pizza made out of recycled spent grains from the brewing process), you should do so.

Latest Athens Trip

01 April 2009

Bakery Gingham

I have heard nothing but praise for German Village's Bakery Gingham, a bakery specializing in all things delicious and sweet. I was tempted a number of times when Bakery Gingham was located adjacent to Brown Bag deli, but I never could pull the trigger.

Also, my endocrinologists have always discouraged me from eating sweets because I'm diabetic. I split the difference by getting a few cupcakes as a welcome home present for mom (where, of course, I will defy the logic of endocrinology by taking at least a bite).

The building is stylishly designed. The door handle is an angled clothes hanger because of the fabric nomenclature. The interior is brightly colored (like the desserts) with shades of pink offset by greens and blues and browns. There is limited seating for on-site enjoyment of the pastries.

The range of flavors and the artistry of the cupcakes are profound. There are Key lime cupcakes, vanilla, almond and violet cupcakes, chocolate mocha cupcakes, chocolate, banana and peanut butter cupcakes, pumpkin pie cupcakes and Buckeye candy cupcakes with chocolate/peanut butter balls baked into a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing and scarlet and gray M&M's on top. These are just a few of the delicious choices.

There are a number of other baked goods at Bakery Gingham. There are cookies and other creations that would taste great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. The cupcakes can also be ordered as a full-size cake option.

Bakery Gingham is a cool little outpost that caters to gourmands looking for a little bit extra to sate their sweet tooth. The new location and the baker's artistry should spark enough interest to keep the business booming.

Bakery Gingham
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